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Everything posted by BradS

  1. The beer guy at Whole Foods told me that they have a new owner and have stopped bottling beer for distribution until they can get some kinks worked out with the bottling process. He was under the impression that the brewpub is still open and that the beer is still available there. I hope that's true, but I don't know anything more! I also hope they fix the bottling process---they're probably my favorite Washington brewery, but also the one with the highest percentage of flat bottles. BradS
  2. You may be the exception, but you're not alone! I also found the food "good, but not surprisingly so." I don't mean to trash the place by saying this, as it's quite possible that my expectations were just unrealistically high. I went about a month ago, and while I really liked the duck confit appetizer----generous duck confit with tons of goat cheese in a tart, I'm not sure how that could go wrong---the entrees (steak with parsley spaetzle, bread pudding) just seemed good rather than great. Can't remember the dessert, which isn't a good sign. Oh, wait, it was the Mexican Napoleon, and actually very good. Anyway, I went in expecting a playful menu and some amazing bites of food, and left thinking while everything was perfectly fine, it wasn't anything I would repeat the drive across town for. I had the feeling that the restaurant hadn't quite settled on its identity yet---whether to be another upscale bistro, or to try for something a little more distinctive (I had expected the latter). For the price, I'd visit someplace like Lark or Le Pichet instead. We had an interesting wine experience too. They turned out to be out of what we ordered, so the waitress brought out something different and more expensive. She offered it to us at a bit of a discount, and we would have felt like cheapstakes not taking her up on it, but it did still end up being more money than we'd planned on. We ended up enjoying the wine--a Syncline Syrah, I think----and the money was no big deal, but the whole transaction did feel a little funny. BradS
  3. Lunch: Paseo (take-out) Shiki Boat Street Dinner: Collins Pub Old Town Ale House Elysian Kisaku If I were only less busy, there would be a lot more regulars! But these are some of the ones I definitely do end up going back to.... BradS
  4. Thanks for the article! Maybe you will encourage others to follow this bold path. Several notes: 1. Brouwer's Cafe is supposed to make decent espresso, though I haven't had it, so if your article had come out later (I suspect it opened after your research was done), it might have been worth mentioning. It is definitely more bar than coffeehouse environment, though. 2. Third Place Books on 65th in the Ravenna neighborhood has a banner hanging in a window saying that Third Place Pub is coming in the summer of 2005. That summer's about expired and there's no sign of a pub, but I assume they're working on it. Maybe someday it can go on the list. 3. I was dismayed to see Big Time referred to as a frat boy bar. It's a brewpub, for one thing. It might have a bit of a frat boy atmosphere, with the dinosaur trophy head on the wall and all that, but I've always thought of it as a grad student hangout. They're very vigilant about carding at the door, and there aren't that many frat boys over 21, are there? Professors and homebrewers can also frequently be spotted there. When they have big scientific meetings at U.W. (especially yeast geneticists!), the place gets really packed. Maybe it's a scientists-who-sometimes-act-like-frat-boys bar? Just my two cents...
  5. Finally made it to Lark last night. Two of us shared 6 plates and a dessert, which was way more than enough food. Amazingly enough, we ordered only 1 of the dishes listed above---which goes to show that Lark has a really impressively long menu. Let's see if I can remember: beets with some sort of marinated cheese (it was excellent but I can't remember the name, should have taken a menu); chicken liver parfait with pickled huckleberries; roasted eel with new potato salad; poulet nouveau with squash; lamb leg with a grain whose name escapes me but was described to us as a larger version of couscous; and the rosti potatoes. I love salt on potatoes, but even so I found the rosti potatoes oversalted, so it was not my favorite dish. The lamb/grain mixture was incredible, the lamb very rare and flavorful, the grains strangely reminiscent of both lentils and fresh corn. Also wonderful were the beets, both in the perfection of their cooking and in the pairing with the marinated cheese. The liver parfait had a great presentation, in a kind of large shotglass with a cap of gelatinized stuff so that it looked like some kind of weird espresso, and the mild pickling of the huckleberries did an amazing job of bringing out their flavor. The eel tasted great but was mildly disappointing: two small pieces that didn't taste all that different from some prepackaged stuff I once brought home and munched on from Uwajimaya (and which didn't cost much for a large quantity). It wasn't bad, it just didn't seem that creative and was a bit too stingy with the eel. The potatoes that went with it were very nice. The chicken dish was great too, but for me the lamb and beet dishes were the real standouts. Enjoyed a bottle of the Cotes du Rhones (around $30) and also the wonderful nectarine crisp, final pre-tip bill about $111. We could have filled up on much less, but I'm glad we tried so many things. We'll definitely be back. Also, there was no wait most of the night.
  6. I apologize! As penance, I will go to the Light Gourmet are the earliest possible moment.
  7. I think there's a little confusion here. I believe (but am not 100% certain) that the Wingdome on Roosevelt is still there. The one on the Ave is the one that closed and now has been replaced by the gourmet place, which I need to try ASAP. Speaking of the Ave, has anyone tried little the Indonesian place just up (within a block I believe) from the University Book Store? I was walking past and saw a sign for some kind of oxtail soup. Another place I need to stop by. I think it's fairly new.
  8. Just to add a data point---I've only made spaetzle once, using a recipe I happened to find in the Zuni Cafe cookbook, so this is hardly an authentic source. The interesting thing is that the recipe (which I don't have in front of me, sorry, I can look it up if there's interest) uses cake flour rather than all-purpose flour. I don't have the gluten data and don't know if this makes a difference, but it would be an interesting experiment. They turned out great, at least according to my daugther, who is a spaetzle addict. But it was a pain forcing the batter through the holes of a colander, which is the best option I had available.
  9. I know someone who works at Brouwer's; the staff has read/is reading this thread. I imagine they might be a bit flummoxed by the parallel Stranger/Weekly reviews last week. Is it possible the Weekly reviewer got a particularly good batch of frites? ← If they're reading this, then I want to state my hope that they figure out a way to institute some sort of sampler (this thought is provoked partly by the Stranger's review). I know it would be difficult, given their already copious supply of glassware, but they managed to pull it off during their wonderful barleywine festival, and I bet they could pull it off on a more regular basis if they put their minds to it. And I'm not talking about giving away free tastes, like most pubs will do---they could go broke doing that on their Belgians. But I am certain that many of us would love to be able to sample a variety of beers in a small volume before investing in a full pint, and we would be happy to pay more $/oz for the chance to have some variety. As the Stranger's review noted, it's a real bummer to pay $9 or whatever some interesting-sounding Belgium ale and then have it be something you just don't like. It's also frustrating to see so many intriguing microbrews on the list and to be able to try so few of them. If they really want to educate the public about the wonders of beer, a sampler (preferably one chosen by the customer, but a fixed set of beers would be better than nothing) would be a great place to start.
  10. ""So perhaps you are right. I'm not as familiar with the beer scene as I once was, but off hand I can't really think of anyplace that caters to beer geeks (certainly not on the level Brouwer's does) that has exceptional food, and seeks to pair that food with beers. Has anyone read the Garrett Oliver book?! But c'mon, Brouwer's could at least raise the level of their food to "good pub grub" which it ain't even hitting now. And the food that they are offering isn't that complicated, and is easily made better just by changing a few things."" ←
  11. Mmm I don't know about that. This is one bar that is TRULY designed for beer geeks. Too bad they left food geeks out of the picture! ← They always do leave food geeks out of the picture, though, right? What I mean is, how many places catering to beer geeks have really great food? And conversely, how many places catering to food geeks have really great beer? Is is because, unlike wine, beer is difficult to pair in any meaningful way with great food? Or is it also at least partly because beer is quite a bit harder to handle than wine---drinking it at exactly the right age is often crucial, the lines need to be cleaned, it needs to be stored in the dark and the cold, etc. Or maybe it's just beer's lowbrow reputation. I love both beer and wine, but I wish more food geeks had the chance to see how amazing a perfectly brewed beer, at just the right time in its life, can be. Most restauranteurs, if they venture into beer at all, are content to stay within a narrow circle of very conventional choices, which makes me kind of sad. It's a territory that's still mostly unexplored.
  12. La Carta de Oaxaca would be a much better option, if you have a way to make it over to Ballard. Also, El Puerco Lloron, at the bottom of the market (you have to follow steps near the fish throwers down, down down, across a street, and head down more steps with The Spanish Table on your left and it'll show up soon thereafter on your right. It wouldn't be a bad idea to ask someone for guidance if you get confused.) On second thought, I don't know how late they're open--maybe only till 6? Go to Ballard if you can arrange it. On a Monday night it shouldn't be too bad a wait. The mole is amazing.
  13. I actually think its a good conversation to have and one that I can now meaningfully participate it. Before having a baby, I was squarely in the 'what the bleep are these people thinking, bringing a baby/kid to this place!' I now completely understand although it's still unacceptable to stay in a restaurant with a child who is disrupting others' meals. We've walked out a handful of times when irreversible melt-down set it. On the other hand, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask fellow-diners to tolerate babbling and toy rattling at a volume consistent with the overall level of the restaurant. FWIW, the 'noisy place = good place for babies' equation hasn't worked for us. Maybe when he's a toddler, but at this point, it's just a sure-fire way to get the baby riled-up and in a tizzy. ← I agree with Tighe's rule completely. If you're bothering other people---or, at least, if you're bothering other people more than they're bothering you!---it's time to leave. (This has happened to us, usually near the end of a meal, but fortunately only a few times.) If you want to go out for a nice relaxing low-key dinner, you'll probably pick someplace quieter than the Barking Dog in the first place. If we want to go to Union, for instance, we get a babysitter.
  14. In a noisy packed pub (I wouldn't characterize most of the Barking Dog space as a bar), an infant can be as noisy as she wants, and nobody will hear it, and nobody will care. Now you know.
  15. The Barking Dog is on 70th (705 NW 70th St), and as I recall they did open sometime around the beginning of last year, so I don't think they can be responsible for anything that happened a few years ago. But....they do have a couple booths. They're on the far left as you enter, along the back wall. There are only maybe 2. BradS
  16. I love Zoe! We've been twice now and hope to go back within the next month. Zoe is the name of the chef's daughter, and they have a very southern European attitude toward children (i.e., they like them). No kids menu, but they'll whip together something in the kitchen that your child will like, and won't even charge much for it. Which isn't necessary in our case as long as they have the grilled octopus...
  17. Bottleworks claims on its website that Brouwer's actually has 40-plus taps, and from my quick peek I believe them. It'll be quite a project to work my way through them. From April 8-15, they will all be switched over to barleywines. kiliki, It's funny you should mention that (and thanks for the recommendation). We have been to the Barking Dog a few times and really enjoyed it, but our most recent visit was probably the last we'll make in a while. It turns out that the Barking Dog has only one high chair. Anyone who's been to a restaurant with a baby of a certain age knows how life-saving a high-chair can be: it's the difference between enjoying yourself and spending at least half your meal with an infant squirming on your lap (and trying to reach for your beer). When we arrived that night, someone else was already using the high chair (or had it parked at their table, anyway). So we asked our server the obvious question: why only one high chair? Are they that expensive? Her bemusing answer was that while they try to accommodate families, they don't want to become known as a "family place." This was hilarious. The place was packed that night, and virtually every table outside the bar area contained either an infant, or a woman in a late stage of pregnancy. Whether or not they appreciate their current clientele, the issue of whether the Barking Dog will become a "family place" has would seem to have been settled. It was probably settled the day they decided to locate in that neighborhood. Maybe they've realized that by now and bought a few more high chairs. We wouldn't know. There are too many other options for us to take the time to go back. Collins Pub, meanwhile, occupies an entirely different universe: it's downtown in the Smith Tower, not exactly a family-oriented part of town, but every time we've shown up, they've gone out of their way to make us feel welcome. There are other great places too (Hale's particularly comes to mind). I've just been whining about Brouwer's because I had such high hopes. Family-friendly or not, I'm sure I'll be stopping by soon. After all, I don't exactly boycott the Latona or the Big Time. BradS
  18. I actually peeked in the door at the end of last week, without eating or drinking. The service seemed harried, as you say. But for me the truly heart-breaking thing was the sign posted right inside the door: 21 and over only. This induced an immediate state of near-clinical depression that has yet to lift. The place I've waited for the last 15 years finally opens....and I can't go. OK, I'm exaggerating. I can go. I'm over 21. But I can't go easily, or all that often, or (if I don't feel like going alone) without paying a babysitter. Such a bummer. Plus it really seems like they could have made, say, the upstairs a 21 and over zone, and the downstairs more permissive, if they really wanted at least part of it to have a tavernesque atmosphere. I guess I'm stuck with the mediocre food and limited (though excellent) beer lists of places like the Elysian and the Wedge. Looking at the bright side, I do try every day to remind myself to be thankful (and I am, very thankful!) for Colllins Pub. One more thing: when I went, Brouwer's still had no sign up. Don't know this is a plan or not (kind of a cultish in-the-know sort of strategy?), but anyway, in the interest of public service I should point out that it's the brown building directly north of the Trolleyman, and you enter from the west side, right underneath the huge plate of metal that looks ready to fall on your head.
  19. ...and really great beer, if you're up for drinking at lunch! Although I'm not too impressed with their attempts at Belgian styles (trippel, witbier, etc.), I think their German (pilsner, oktoberfest, Vienna, doppelbock, etc.) and British (IPA, ESB, stout, porter) versions are among the best I've had anywhere. They usually have only 5-6 kinds on at once, with ESB, IPA, and pilsner among the regulars. The tulip ale is a good but not mind-blowing American pale ale. If I had to, I could probably live on LaConnor beer alone....
  20. I definitely need to go, assuming this is the place one of the Bottleworks employees was telling me about last fall---30-40 different drafts, multiple cask-conditioned beers, etc etc etc. With so many local pubs, excellent as they are, keeping no more than 10-15 beers on tap, and a large percentage of those being the same no matter where you go, this sounds like the type of beer place Seattle definitely needs! (Not that Collins Pub is doing a bad job by any means...) Does anyone happen to know if this will be a 21 and over only place, or will allow families? The guy I talked to suspected the latter, but wasn't sure. Also, what's the address? Thanks! BradS
  21. I walked by Union yesterday and saw they are doing the $25 tasting menu thing again this month, presumably Sun-Thur, in parallel with 25 for $25. They've done this for a while, but now that they've raised the normal tasting menu price to $60 I wondered if they still would. The answer, at least this time around, seems to be yes.
  22. I couldn't agree more about the Hi-Spot, 5-Spot, Hi-Life confusion. Last weekend we went to whatever of these is on Queen Anne (5-Spot, I think) for the first time. I'd heard some mixed reviews of this and other Chow Foods places, and when the early-arriving huge piece of coffee cake turned out to be rather bland (lemon-poppyseed, but where was the lemon? And I was really hoping for a streusel topping), I was a little worried. But everything else was great. My wife (who liked the coffee cake, but she's wrong) ordered the New England style hash and loved it, especially the grated beets. I know nothing about this style of hash, but I had one taste and thought it was excellent. The 6-year-old's kid breakfast included fruit, bacon, a pancake, and a scrambled egg for only $4 or so. I ordered one of the daily specials, a fritatta that fit in with the current Little Italy theme. It featured pepperoni, smoked mozarella and spinach. I was a little dubious but nothing on the menu had sounded better. The fritatta quickly won me over. The buttery breakfast potatoes were impossible not to like, and despite my skepticism about the concept of focaccia toast, this was good too. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and a tasty latte rounded out the meal. Plus, they cheerfully poured me some excellent coffee when the latte ran out---always a sign of a great breakfast place. Excellent service overall, and much tolerance for our mess-making baby, who, incidentally, thought the coffee cake was superb. We'll definitely go back, as long as we can get there early. The place opens at 8:30, and by 9 the line was getting ridiculous. But what good breakfast place in Seattle isn't like this? The market is clearly not saturated.
  23. Silent Heart Nest vegetarian restaurant on the Ave at around 52nd is moving to Fremont, according to a sign in the door. Looks like its current location is pretty much done. It's too bad. We went there once, liked it, and just never got around to going back. Just up the street, Johnny's American-Mediterranean Cuisine, which took over the space abandoned by the Brazilian Grill which recently resurfaced downtown, appears to still be waiting for its first customer. I walk past there every day and have yet to see anyone but the staff and/or apparent family members. This has been going on a few months. Perhaps they overestimated the market for hamburgers and gyros on the upper reaches of the Ave. One final note: I overheard at the amazing Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard that they're expanding their space to have an open-air patio, and they expect this to be finished by summer (I guess it's in the building interior somehow, past where the bar and bathrooms are now). And they have no plans to open for lunch.
  24. My favorite strange combo is salt bagels and grapefruit. I put cream cheese on the bagel, take a salty bite, then bite into the grapefruit. I could eat this all day. In fact, I do eat this at 3-4 breakfasts per week. I've only ever gotten one friend to try it, and he thought it was interesting but not necessarily good.
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